Caring for the Caregiver

CareAll Home Health Care understands that caring for an aging relative can easily overwhelm a family, no matter how supportive its intentions. An overwhelmed caregiver may behave in ways that are abnormal for him or her, resulting in neglect or even abuse of the elder who requires so much. To prevent this, a “caring for the caregiver plan” is an important part of a well-rounded elder-care program.

Many caregivers find taking care of their elders to be rewarding and enriching. Unfortunately, if the elder’s condition deteriorates, these caregivers may wrongly think that taking time for self-care is selfish. When this occurs, caregivers can end up burned out and overwhelmed, resulting in impatience and resentment toward the person they care for. To avoid this, CareAll Home Health Care recommends the following for caregivers, especially those who must spend inordinate amounts of time caring for an aging senior:

  • Accept help when it is offered and request help if it is not offered. Let people know what hours you would like them to assist so you can take a break. Ask for help with dinners. Sign up for Meals on Wheels or a similar meal assistance program. Call a local respite agency. CareAll Home Health Care offers Private Duty sitters to provide help that may be covered by insurance.
  • Find an appropriate adult day care program for your elder.
  • Be mindful of your own commitments. Go to your doctor appointments and take your own prescribed medications. Taking care of yourself is one of your most important jobs.
  • Adopt stress-reduction practices such as yoga, a regular walk around the block, a cup of coffee with friends, or going to church.
  • If you believe you may suffer from depression, seek treatment and follow your doctor’s orders.
  • Find a local support group for caregivers of the elderly. If you can’t find one in your area, consider starting one. You are not the only person in your area going through this experience.
  • If you have developed a drug or alcohol problem, a not uncommon occurrence among stressed-out caregivers, then seek treatment for it. Insurance will often cover drug and alcohol addiction treatment.

Too often, elders are abused in their own home, in relatives’ homes, or in facilities responsible for their care. As elders become physically and mentally frail, they are less able to speak up about neglect. In the United States, more than half a million cases of elder abuse are reported annually. How many more go unreported?

If you know or suspect elder abuse, please call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-888-APS-TENN (1-888-277-8366). You might save a life.